Our daily lives are made up of habits. Between bills, schedules, kid’s soccer games and snacks at the office, it can sometimes feel overwhelming to create any new healthy habits on top of the everyday stressors.
But research shows that habits make up 40 percent of our tasks on a given day. That’s why when it comes to creating & maintaining your New Year’s intentions year round, sustainable habit change is the key. But what does that mean, & how do you truly change your habits?
Change your habits, change your life
From prepping your morning coffee, to walking the dog after dinner, habits are the decisions you make & the actions you take on a daily basis, many of which you might not even think about. It’s easy, simple and sometimes it’s just like breathing. But adding something new on top of that? There’s no time for that. Right?
Well, not necessarily.
Habits shape every aspect of our lives. Making a habit is easy, but keeping it is harder. So let’s dive in — how do you create & keep your habits for the long haul?
- Make your new habit simple – it’s important to begin with small changes that don’t seem like a drastic departure from your current routine. Trying to change all.the.things is a recipe for overwhelm & eventual burnout. Instead of committing to 5 hour-long workouts each week, plan for three 20-minute sessions.
- Start small – a popular phrase here is from Leo Babauta, where he says “make it so easy you can’t say no”. Don’t rely on your willpower to force a big new habit into place. Willpower gets worn out by the end of each day, so it shouldn’t be the thing that drives your habits. Instead, pick a small, new habit. One that’s super easy, so it just fits naturally into your daily routine.
- Build slowly – progress is progress. If you’re doing your habits right, then the end goal isn’t going anywhere. It’s still there waiting for you at the finish line. Just bear in mind that even the smallest bit of incremental forward motion is still movement in the right direction.
- Be consistent! – patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to making new habits. Just as Rome wasn’t built overnight, creating new, sustainable habits takes time — lots of time. So stick with it, and be consistent. If you miss a day, that’s okay, just pick it back up again.
The benefits of creating healthy habits
Between 81-92 percent of all New Year’s Resolutions are left by the wayside by the end of the year. So let’s talk about why creating healthy habits matters, and how to not lose sight of your ultimate goal.
The building blocks of creating a habit are four-fold: cue, craving, response, and reward. Take your phone for example. You see it light up, you crave to see the message, you reply, and you get a little rush of dopamine. That’s how the building blocks look when they play out in real-time. The same can be said for good habits, too. They come with their own set of rewards!
- Eating a healthier diet – while this looks different for everyone, creating healthier habits around food can improve your energy levels, among tons of other benefits like improved digestion, and increased immunity. Nourishing your body properly gives it the feel-good support it needs.
- Improving your sleep habits – poor sleeping habits mean that you’re more prone to irritability, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other health issues. Improving your sleep habits can have a positive ripple effect on other areas of your life. Plus, who doesn’t love catching some zzz’s?
- Incorporating mindfulness – Mindfulness practices can have a big impact on your mental health and help keep you feeling balanced throughout the day. Examples include deep breathing, meditation, eating without distraction, journaling, or incorporating a gratitude practice (writing down what you’re grateful for). You can start small and add on as you go.
- Starting an exercise routine – Exercise has big benefits for everything from mental health to heart health, and the good news is there are tons of ways to get moving. Whether you enjoy walking, weight lifting, or yoga, they’ve all got proven benefits. So start experimenting today!
Our favorite resources for building new habits
The best thing to note is that habits are made stronger if you’re surrounded by a supportive community. That’s why we’re listing our favorite sources — because change doesn’t happen in a silo.
Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin. This book is focused on breaking bad habits, so that you can begin working on the foundation for a better life.
Atomic Habits by James Clear. A great resource for both building healthy habits and breaking bad ones, Clear walks readers through how tiny changes equal remarkable results.
- Gretchen Rubin – Rubin’s website includes all of her books on making healthy habits, as well as podcasts, and her blog which is a super thorough resource for all things habit-forming.
- James Clear – James Clear’s own website is an amazing resource for advice on habits, plus tips and tricks to make it really stick, once and for all.
Breaking bad habits and building healthy new ones is not easy, but given the right amount of time, and proper strategy, it’s well worth it. And if you’re feeling like you’re losing willpower, or you’re getting stuck in a cycle of intrusive thoughts, consider all of the benefits that healthy habits have on your mind, your body, and your spirit. Give yourself a little more time to breathe, slow down your process, and keep at it. It’s all worth it in the end.
Want to figure out what works for you without the shopping, cooking or cleaning? Give our meal plans a try today.